Chicago’s hip-hop scene might be as bright as ever in 2014, with a wide range of fresh faces and sounds blaring from the Windy City. And a big reason for this Midwest renaissance rap is the release of Kanye West’s debut album, The College Dropout, 10 years ago today (Feb. 10).
Rockie Fresh, MMG’s Chi-Town flag-waver, remembers when Kanye’s big bear mascot first back-spun across registers.
“That was the first hip-hop album I ever bought,” remembers Rockie Fresh, who was 12 years old when the LP was released. “I was young, still wearing [school] uniforms. I remember I switched up my uniform with polo shirts. By the end of the album I was almost sure that I wasn’t gonna go it all the way through college.”
Kanye’s first classic album might’ve steered a young Rockie Fresh’s academic career astray, but it helped the 22-year-old eccentric to achieve his own dreams of a life in music.
“Kanye coming from the same place that I came from and seeing how different he was—from the style of dress to the beat selection to the flow patterns—but also the respect he got from other artists like Jay Z and Ludacris and Mos Def... it affected me a lot,” says Rockie. “It was just a well-orchestrated project.”
Rockie is hard at work on his own debut album, one he believes will go down with masterpieces like College Dropout and Jay-Z’s Reasonable Doubt. In the meantime, though, he’s preparing to join G-Eazy’s These Things Happen tour, which kicks off Feb. 21 in Dallas, TX. —John Kennedy